Bike lanes are here. Now what?
Jul 31, 2018 03:08PM
● By Shaun Delliskave
Cyclists, like these two young riders, will soon have bike lanes on 700 West. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)
Cyclists can rejoice that new bike lanes will be opening on 700 West this summer. This will add to Murray City’s designated bike lanes on Winchester and Vine Streets, and bike routes on 4800 South and 5900 South. Future plans include bicycle lanes on Murray Boulevard and 500 West, and UDOT is planning for bicycle lanes on 900 East. Most bike lanes either connect with the Jordan River Parkway or the new Canal Trail.
Roads with bike lanes have standing signage and bicycles painted on the surface to let both automobiles and cyclists know that additional rules apply. These rules include that both cars and bicycles need to stop at stop signs and red lights, watch for pedestrians, stay within speed limits, and drive in the same direction as other traffic. Bike lanes also give cyclists a space apart from cars, where they can safely and comfortably travel without having to integrate with automobile traffic. State law requires motorists to provide three feet of clearance between their vehicle and a cyclist.
“Bike lanes are an integral part of the city’s General Plan that was approved in 2017,” explained Murray City spokesperson Jennifer Heaps. Several years ago, a group of Murray residents and businesses organized under the name Cycle Murray. The group, headed by Keith Bateman, encouraged the city to focus on constructing more bicycle lanes.
“About five years ago, I learned that in about 2003 Murray City had incorporated some great concepts for bike lanes and paths in the city’s General Plan, but as of 2013 nothing had been done,” said Bateman. He reached out to Mayor Ted Eyre and Director of Public Works Doug Hill about following through on adding bike lanes.
The General Plan states, “Multiple modes of transportation are thoughtfully considered for every street as it is established and/or upgraded.” It also states, “Site design standards for developments should prioritize pedestrian and bicycle access, not just consider automobile access. Bicycle and trail networks should continue to be coordinated with neighboring communities and the regional system.”
“As a result of these efforts, Mayor Eyre organized a Bicycle Task Force. Initially (then) Councilman Blair Camp was directing our efforts on the Task Force, but later Mayor Eyre felt it was an executive function for the city and he took over guidance of the Task Force,” Bateman said. “Mayor Eyre became a dedicated advocate for making biking safer in Murray, and now Mayor Camp is also actively pursuing this vision.”
As a result of the Task Force’s work, Murray implemented dedicated bike lanes on Vine Street from the Murray Central TRAX station to 900 East and made some adjustments to Vine Street from 900 East to Van Winkle Expressway to make biking much safer. This year there are some major structural issues being addressed on Vine Street from 900 East to 1300 East, and Murray has plans to implement full bike lanes through this area in 2019.
According to Heaps, “One of the most challenging aspects of establishing bike lanes is working to minimize impacts to vehicular use and on-street parking on the city’s narrow streets. Many of Murray’s through-streets are not sufficiently wide enough to accommodate traffic lanes, bicycle lanes, and on-street parking.”
“The ultimate goal is to have protected and totally separated bike lanes, such as those on 300 South in downtown Salt Lake,” noted Bateman. His organization has now expanded into Cycle Wasatch. In 2017, Bateman’s organization recognized Murray’s efforts by awarding it the first Bike Friendly City Award.